Sunday, 21 July 2013

brownie politics + a recipe for espresso pecan brownies

espresso pecan brownies
when i was in secondary school i had a classmate whose mother made exceptional brownies. they were gooey and fudgy with a thin, flaky epidermis several shades lighter than the deep brownness of what lay beneath. in fact they were my first real brownies and became the benchmark for all others in islamabad. no other brownies ever measured up to them and even my own attempts to recreate them at home failed miserably. in those years the closest i ever got to approximating auntie r’s brownies were through betty crocker’s brownie mix.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

vulcan the smoker + burger night

a full view of vulcan
in roman mythology vulcan is the god of fire. at number five in bani gala he has been reincarnated as a barbecue grill/smoker. his body is fashioned from a large steel barrel supported by a rectangular frame. his fire is contained in a little hatch fed by coal or wood. his name brandished in metal is proudly displayed on the lip of the curve of his upper body. in a jar beside him are tools that are capable of withstanding his wrath. they are used to retrieve large hunks of meat and poultry after they have been smoked or grilled. 

vulcan was inspired by a combination of arizona living and the pakistani love for grilling. the yusuf family’s adventurous appetites led us to try mexican and american meats and we fell in love with long slow smoked brisket and ribs. barbecue in the land of red, white and blue is an extended affair. the southern states are famous for cooking tough cuts of meat over indirect heat usually a wood fire for a long while. in pakistan meat is generally grilled after being marinated which essentially helps tenderise the meat. it absorbs some of the smokiness of the grill but it is nowhere near the deep almost tobacco like smokiness of american barbecue. i have fond memories of baba’s barbecues on trips to murree. back then he used a rectangular grill with a mesh of diamond shapes as a platform for grilling chicken tikka and bite-sized pieces of beef.